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How West Ham United may line up without Michail Antonio against Manchester United

Sports Mole take a look at three ways in which West Ham United could line up against Manchester United on Sunday to combat Michail Antonio's absence.

Following Michail Antonio's dismissal in West Ham United's goalless draw away at Southampton last weekend, David Moyes has been handed an attacking dilemma ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester United.

The 31-year-old, who last week received the Premier League Player of the Month award for August, has made a bright start to the new campaign, scoring four goals in his opening three league matches.

West Ham United manager David Moyes with Michail Antonio as he is sent off on September 11, 2021© Reuters

However, the Hammers will have to cope without the newly-capped Jamaica international for their game at the London Stadium this weekend. With no new striker recruited over the summer, Moyes is short for options in the centre-forward position.

Here, Sports Mole take a look at three ways in which West Ham could line up against the Red Devils to combat Antonio's absence.

4-2-3-1 – Jarrod Bowen to start as the central striker?

WHU without Michail Antonio 4-2-3-1

Jarrod Bowen is the most likely candidate to step into Antonio's shoes and start as the central striker on Sunday. The 24-year-old – who scored eight league goals last season – has previously played up front for the Hammers and Moyes could call upon the former Hull City forward once again.

If Bowen were to start as the lone striker, then this may require a few alterations to the three other attacking options in behind; Said Benrahma could switch from a central playmaker role to the left wing, with Pablo Fornals operating on the opposite flank, while summer signing Nikola Vlasic could be handed his Premier League debut in the number 10 role.

5-3-2 – Could Moyes start with two central strikers?

WHU without Michail Antonio 5-3-2

Another option for Moyes could be for him to change his formation entirely and play with a five-man defence, a system he has previously used against the so-called 'top-six' clubs in the Premier League.

This formation would allow the former Red Devils boss to start with two centre-forwards as opposed to just one, with the width in his side coming from the wing-backs.

Ukrainian captain Andriy Yarmolenko – who has previously played down the middle for his country – came on to replace Antonio against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday and is capable of joining Bowen in attack. The 31-year-old is yet to start this season but has come off the bench for the final few minutes in each of West Ham's four Premier League games.

This potential switch in formation could also see summer signing Kurt Zouma handed his Premier League debut for the club. The Frenchman played in a back three for his national side during this month's international break and he could be handed a start alongside Craig Dawson and Angelo Ogbonna.

4-3-3 – Will the Hammers opt for a False Nine?

WHU without Michail Antonio 4-3-3

With no recognised striker in West Ham's squad now that Antonio is unavailable, Moyes could even start with a false nine through the middle. Vlasic has previously featured for club and country in a deep-lying attacking role and so could be an option to play there against Man United.

The Croatian's role in this position would see him continuously drop off from the defensive line, receiving the ball in deeper areas and finding space to link up with midfield teammates, such as Benrahma and Bowen, who would use their pace and trickery to get in behind and cause problems.

Vlasic would also need to have an eye for goal, but after finding the net 12 times for CSKA Moscow last season, the 23-year-old is capable of posing a threat in the final third.

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